Last week, we heard Jesus calling out to others to “Follow him.” Now, we see Jesus is teaching his disciples the Beatitudes. He is telling us to follow his example – Jesus is teaching us how we are called to live. This means we’re called to be the Church of the Beatitudes: to know that we are blessed and to seek always to be a blessing to the communities we serve.
As we look at the this passage, we see Jesus is challenging the legalist view of status, where your status could dictate whether your literally survival. Here Jesus is radically honoring those who’ve are pushed out to the margins of their culture.
I thought about this means when I heard the message extended to all those who come to Coventry Cathedral:
“We extend a special welcome to those who are single, married, divorced, widowed, straight, gay, confused, well-heeled or down-at-heel.
We especially welcome wailing babies and excited toddlers.
We welcome you whether you can sing like Pavarotti or just growl quietly to yourself. You're welcome here if you're just browsing, just woken up or just got out of prison. We don't care if you're more Christian than the Archbishop of Canterbury or haven't been to church since Christmas 10 years ago.
We extend a special welcome to those who are over 60 but not grown up yet and to teenagers who are growing up too fast. We welcome keep-fit moms, football dads, starving artists, tree huggers, latte sippers, vegetarians, junk food eaters. We welcome those who are in recovery or still addicted. We welcome you if you're having problems, are down in the dumps or don't like organized religion. ( We're not that keen on it either!)
We offer welcome to those who think the Earth is flat, work too hard, don't work, can't spell, or are here because Granny is visiting and wanted to come to the cathedral.
We welcome those who are inked, pierced, both or neither. We offer a special welcome to those who could use a prayer right now, had religion shoved down their throats as kids or got lost on the Ring Road and wound up here by mistake. We welcome pilgrims, tourists, seekers, doubters and you!”
This incredible welcome shows what it means to be blessed and to be a blessing to others. And this blessed St Margaret’s is known for our generous and warm welcome, we are a full expression of God’s family. We bring people together from different backgrounds - we come together in Christ’s love with diverse perspectives. But what else will we find as we look at this passage?
One way to approach this passage is to hold it as a road map loaded with signs, so that we will recognize signs along the way for following Jesus. As we look around to see these signs with fresh eyes, what do we see?
‘Poor in spirit,’ ‘Those who mourn’ do we recognize those times when we see someone struggling – those who are in need of God, of seeing God through our actions. Together we are the Church of the Beatitudes, we know our need of God and therefore we see God at the center of everything. Together we are the Church of the Beatitudes, we are called to be a community of kindness and gentleness and mercy. We are called to be an outspoken for justice and for the poor.
This is what it means to be a Christian; we follow in his footsteps by feeding the hungry, clothing the naked and welcoming the stranger. We must speak up for the vulnerable for those refugees, who’ve suffered unimaginable pain and loss. Just as Jesus challenged the legalist view of status, we must honor those on the margins who struggle to survive, those who fled war, violence, famine, and persecution.
We are called to follow those who’ve gone before us, to anchor our lives in prayer, worship, scripture and reflecting on all the ways we see signs along the path. We must honor Christ by having hearts of mercy, helping all those in need – therefore we to act when we see actions that don’t speak of Christ. Everything is centered on the good news of Christ, at the heart of everything is encountering and understanding the love of God revealed in Jesus.
As we look at this new sign for St Margaret’s, we see this symbol as reminder of God’s Eternal Love that we find in Christ.
The red center reminds us that our hearts are connected to one another through this eternal love of Christ. ‘Blessed are the pure in heart,’ as we remember our namesake St Margaret, who is known for having a heart for the poor – all those in need. She sought to live humbly and to serve the needs of others as we hear in the Beatitudes.
We remember our Anglican heritage with this Celtic style cross of our Savior.
Infinite Love with the blue of water of our baptism, water of God’s creation and yellow of the light of Christ, the warm Sun that lights the world.
Infinite love, as we see the vine, we remember that Christ is the vine and we are the branches.
This is what it means to be a Church of the Beatitudes; all the fruit that we bear - everything good comes from abiding in his love.
And at our annual meeting, we will celebrate all the ways we are walking in love and together we will look for new ways our living God is calling out it us – Christ calling out – Follow me!